Introduction To Kokedama: The Art Of Japanese Moss Balls

Imagine adding a touch of serenity and natural beauty to your indoor space with a unique and captivating art form – Kokedama. Originating in Japan, Kokedama, also known as the art of Japanese moss balls, is a fascinating technique that suspends plants in moss-covered orbs, creating an eye-catching display of greenery. In this article, we will explore the art of Kokedama, its history, and how you can create your own stunning moss ball creations to bring a slice of tranquility into your home. So, get ready to embark on a journey into the enchanting world of Kokedama!

Introduction To Kokedama: The Art Of Japanese Moss Balls

What is Kokedama

Kokedama: A Traditional Japanese Art

Kokedama, which translates to “moss ball” in Japanese, is a traditional Japanese art form that dates back centuries. It involves taking a plant and wrapping its roots in a compact ball of soil, which is then covered in lush green moss. The result is a beautiful and unique display that brings a touch of nature into any living space.

Definition of Kokedama

Kokedama is essentially a form of bonsai, as it involves the cultivation of small plants in a miniature and controlled environment. However, what sets kokedama apart is the absence of a traditional pot. Instead, the plant’s roots are carefully bound together with a special soil mixture and wrapped in moss, creating a self-contained and visually pleasing display.

Origin of Kokedama

Kokedama originated in Japan during the Edo period (1603-1868). It was initially practiced as a way to cultivate limited resources, as it required less soil and space compared to traditional potted plants. Over time, kokedama evolved into an art form, with practitioners using various plant species and mosses to create visually striking and artistic displays.

Materials Required for Kokedama

Plant Selection

When choosing a plant for kokedama, it’s important to consider its natural habitat and growth requirements. Ideally, select plants that thrive in indirect light and have a compact root system. Some popular plant choices for kokedama include ferns, bonsai trees, succulents, ivy, and flowering plants.

Soil Mixture

To create the soil mixture for kokedama, a combination of akadama, peat moss, and bonsai soil is typically used. Akadama, a type of volcanic clay, helps retain moisture while allowing for proper drainage. Peat moss provides organic matter and contributes to moisture retention, while bonsai soil offers the necessary nutrients for plant growth.


Moss is an integral part of kokedama, as it not only serves as a decorative element but also helps retain moisture and protects the soil ball. Sphagnum moss is commonly used due to its high water-holding capacity. However, other types of moss, such as sheet moss or Java moss, can also be used depending on personal preference and availability.

Twine or Wire

To hold the soil ball and moss in place, twine or wire is needed. Natural twine, such as jute or hemp, is often used for its aesthetic appeal. Alternatively, floral wire or fishing line can be used for added strength and durability.

Watering Tools

Watering kokedama requires special consideration, as the moss ball needs to be saturated without overwatering. A spray bottle or a watering can with a narrow spout can be used to ensure water is evenly distributed throughout the moss and soil.

Creating a Kokedama

Preparing the Plant

Begin by gently removing the plant from its pot and carefully loosen the roots. If the plant has long roots, trim them back to a manageable length. Be sure to handle the plant with care to avoid damaging its delicate parts.

Building the Soil Ball

Take the prepared soil mixture and start forming it into a ball around the plant’s roots. Gradually add the soil mixture, using your hands to compact it firmly around the roots. Continue shaping the soil to create a smooth and uniform ball.

Wrapping with Moss

Once the soil ball is formed, take the moss and soak it in water to make it pliable. Start wrapping the moist moss tightly around the soil ball, making sure to cover the entire surface. Use the twine or wire to secure the moss in place, wrapping it around the ball in a crisscross pattern. Be careful not to wrap too tightly, as this can restrict the plant’s growth.

Tying the Kokedama

After wrapping the moss, tie a knot with the twine or wire to securely hold everything together. Leave a length of twine or wire to create a hanging loop if desired. Trim off any excess twine or wire, and gently shape the kokedama into a spherical form. Ensure that the plant is secure and the moss is tightly held in place.

Care and Maintenance of Kokedama

Light and Temperature Requirements

Most kokedama plants thrive in bright, indirect light. Place your kokedama in a location that receives adequate sunlight, but be mindful of extreme temperatures or direct sunlight, as they can damage or stress the plant. Aim for a temperature range between 60°F (15°C) and 75°F (24°C) for optimal growth.

Watering Techniques

The unique design of kokedama requires a careful balance of watering to maintain proper moisture levels without overwatering. To water your kokedama, gently submerge the moss ball in a container of room temperature water for about 5-10 minutes, or until the moss and soil are thoroughly saturated. Allow any excess water to drain before returning the kokedama to its display location.


Since kokedama plants are grown in a compact environment, they have limited access to nutrients from the soil. To ensure healthy growth, it is recommended to fertilize your kokedama every 4-6 weeks during the growing season with a diluted liquid fertilizer. Follow the instructions on the fertilizer packaging for the appropriate dilution ratio.

Pruning and Trimming

Regular pruning and trimming are essential for maintaining the shape and health of your kokedama plant. Remove any dead or yellowing leaves, and trim back overgrown branches to maintain a compact form. Be careful not to over-prune, as it can weaken the plant. Always use clean, sharp tools to avoid damaging the plant’s structure.

Different Kokedama Variations

Indoor Kokedama

Indoor kokedama is a popular choice for indoor gardening enthusiasts who want to bring the beauty of nature into their homes. Plants suited for indoor kokedama include ferns, ivy, and small flowering plants. These low-maintenance displays add a touch of greenery to any room and can be placed on tabletops, shelves, or windowsills.

Outdoor Kokedama

Outdoor kokedama is a great option for those who have access to a garden or outdoor space. Plants suited for outdoor kokedama include bonsai trees, succulents, and hardy perennials. These kokedama displays can be hung from tree branches or placed in garden beds to create a unique and eye-catching feature in your outdoor living space.

Hanging Kokedama

Hanging kokedama is a popular variation that adds a sense of uniqueness and charm to any space. By attaching a sturdy loop of twine or wire, kokedama can be suspended from a ceiling hook or a special kokedama hanger. Hanging kokedama can be placed at different heights, creating a visually appealing display that adds depth and interest to any room.

Floating Kokedama

Floating kokedama is a modern twist on the traditional art form. Instead of being suspended from above, these kokedama displays float in water, creating a captivating and ethereal effect. Floating kokedama is often used as a centerpiece or eye-catching feature in indoor water gardens or shallow bowls filled with water and decorative elements.

Using Kokedama as Home Decor

Choosing the Right Placement

When using kokedama as home decor, consider the lighting conditions and the overall aesthetic of the space. Place kokedama displays near windowsills or in well-lit areas for plants that require bright, indirect light. For plants that tolerate low light conditions, such as ferns or ivy, consider placing them in darker corners or on shelves where they can add a splash of greenery.

Incorporating Kokedama in Interior Design

Kokedama can be incorporated into various interior design styles, ranging from minimalistic to bohemian. It adds a natural and organic element to the room, creating a harmonious and calming ambiance. Consider the color scheme and textures in the space when choosing the plant and moss for your kokedama, ensuring they complement the overall aesthetic.

Benefits of Kokedama as Home Decor

In addition to its aesthetic appeal, kokedama offers several benefits as home decor. The presence of plants has been shown to reduce stress, improve focus, and create a sense of well-being. Kokedama also helps purify the air by absorbing toxins and releasing oxygen, making it a natural air purifier for your living spaces.

Popular Plants for Kokedama


Ferns are a popular choice for kokedama due to their lush foliage and ability to thrive in high humidity environments. Maidenhair ferns, Boston ferns, and bird’s nest ferns are excellent options for kokedama displays. Their feathery fronds create a soft and elegant appearance, adding a touch of greenery to any space.

Bonsai Trees

Bonsai trees are a classic choice for kokedama, as they epitomize the art of miniature gardening. Juniper bonsai, Japanese maple bonsai, and ficus bonsai are commonly used for kokedama displays. Their intricate branches and compact size make them ideal for creating visually striking and unique kokedama arrangements.


Succulents are a great option for those who prefer low-maintenance plants. Their ability to store water in their leaves makes them well-suited for kokedama displays. Popular succulent choices for kokedama include echeveria, sedum, and haworthia. Their varied colors and textures add interest and visual appeal to any kokedama arrangement.


Ivy is a versatile plant that can be trained to grow in different directions, making it an excellent choice for kokedama displays. English ivy, Algerian ivy, and Swedish ivy are often used for their trailing and cascading growth habits. Ivy kokedama displays are perfect for hanging arrangements or as tabletop accents.

Flowering Plants

Flowering plants add a burst of color and vibrancy to kokedama displays. Orchids, hydrangeas, and cyclamen are popular choices for their stunning blooms and ability to thrive in compact environments. The combination of lush greenery and vibrant flowers creates a truly captivating kokedama display.

Kokedama Display Ideas

Displaying Kokedama in Hanging Arrangements

One of the most appealing ways to display kokedama is by hanging them in various arrangements. Create a cluster of kokedama in different sizes and plant types, suspending them at varying heights from a ceiling or wall-mounted hooks. This creates a visually pleasing display that adds a unique touch to any living space.

Creating a Kokedama Terrarium

Combining kokedama with terrarium elements creates a captivating mini ecosystem. Place a kokedama on a bed of pebbles or decorative sand in a glass vessel, then add small accents such as figurines or decorative stones. This creates a mesmerizing and self-contained display that brings a piece of nature indoors.

Using Kokedama in Zen Gardens

For those who appreciate a minimalist and zen-inspired aesthetic, incorporating kokedama into a miniature Zen garden is a perfect choice. Arrange kokedama on a bed of sand or gravel and add small rocks, miniature rakes, and decorative elements like Buddhist statues or incense burners. This creates a serene and meditative display, perfect for relaxation and contemplation.

Kokedama Care Tips

Maintaining Proper Moisture Levels

Proper moisture levels are crucial for the health and longevity of kokedama. Monitor the moisture levels regularly by gently pressing the moss ball. If it feels dry to the touch, it’s time to water your kokedama. Avoid overwatering, as excessive moisture can lead to root rot. Always use room temperature water to prevent shocking the plant.

Preventing Moss and Soil Molds

To prevent moss and soil molds from growing on your kokedama, it’s important to maintain good airflow and avoid excess moisture. Place your kokedama in a well-ventilated area that receives indirect light. If you notice any mold growth, gently remove it with a soft brush or cotton swab. Ensure that the kokedama is not sitting in stagnant water.

Revitalizing Dry or Overwatered Kokedama

If your kokedama becomes dry or overwatered, there are steps you can take to revive it. For dry kokedama, soak the moss ball in water for a slightly longer period, allowing it to fully hydrate. In the case of overwatering, gently remove the moss ball from any excess water and allow it to dry out for a few days in a well-ventilated area. Adjust your watering routine accordingly to maintain proper moisture levels in the future.

Benefits of Kokedama

Stress Reduction and Relaxation

Surrounding yourself with plants, such as kokedama, has been shown to reduce stress and promote relaxation. The soothing presence of nature and the act of caring for plants can help lower blood pressure, improve mood, and increase overall well-being. Kokedama provides a natural and beautiful focal point that invites tranquility and calm into your living spaces.

Improved Air Quality

Plants, including kokedama, play a significant role in improving indoor air quality. They act as natural air purifiers by filtering and absorbing toxins, such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and releasing oxygen. Kokedama helps to create a healthier and more oxygen-rich environment, improving the quality of the air you breathe.

Connection with Nature

In today’s fast-paced and technology-driven world, it’s important to find ways to connect with nature. Kokedama provides a unique opportunity to bring a piece of the natural world into your home or office. Whether you’re tending to your kokedama or simply admiring its beauty, it allows you to reconnect with nature and experience the calming effects that plants offer.

In conclusion, kokedama is a beautiful and artistic way to incorporate plants into your living spaces. Whether you choose to create a hanging kokedama display or a floating kokedama centerpiece, the possibilities are endless. With the right materials, care, and placement, kokedama can transform any space into a tranquil oasis of natural beauty and serenity. So, why not try your hand at creating your own kokedama and bring a touch of Japanese artistry into your life?

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Written by Kelly Kennedy

I'm Kelly Kennedy, the author behind Japanese Garden Craft. As a lover of Japanese gardening, I've dedicated myself to cultivating knowledge and sharing it with others. With a focus on providing in-depth reviews and insights, I aim to be a comprehensive source for all things related to Japanese gardening tools and techniques. Trustworthy reviews of various tools, from essentials to specialized items, are created by experts in the field. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned landscaper, my instructional content covers everything from the basics to advanced techniques. Let's embark on a journey to create your own serene Japanese garden together.

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